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What is sugar?

Sugar is a considered a ‘simple carbohydrate’ and is found naturally in many foods including fruits, vegetables, dairy, and nuts. We need carbohydrates to live, so sugar is an important nutrient.

The white sugar many of us are familiar with is a ‘refined’ or ‘processed’ sugar, made from sugar cane or sugar beets. This type of sugar is used to sweeten drinks, cakes, cereals, yogurts, and many other processed foods. There are many other forms of processed sugars that are chemically produced in various ways, which are also used to sweeten processed foods and drinks.

Our bodies digest the sugars in fruits and vegetables differently than sugars found in processed foods. Since fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, our bodies digest these foods and their sugars more slowly. Our bodies digest sugar from processed foods very quickly, causing blood sugar levels to increase quickly. Even though you may eat calories from foods with processed sugars, you will not feel the same full feeling you get from eating sugars from fruits and vegetables.

Hidden sugar

Sugar comes in many different forms. It is important to know how to spot the ‘hidden sugars’ in the foods you are eating. A food that looks like it does not have any sugar may have one or more hidden sugars. All of these different forms of sugar have calories and little nutrient value. Many times, these hidden sugars are sweeter than real sugar.

Sugar does not cause unique problems for people with chronic kidney disease. But eating too much sugar can lead to unwanted weight gain and diabetes, which can cause complications for those with kidney disease.

Names of hidden sugars to look out for on a nutrition label:

  • Barley malt
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Cane juice
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Coconut sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Date sugar
  • Fructose syrup
  • Fruit juices
  • *Galatose
  • *Glucose syrup
  • Grape juice
  • *High fructose corn syrup
  • *High maltose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Malted (type of grain)
  • Maltodextin
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Powdered sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice sugar

* Most ingredients with ending – ose

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